Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con): I wonder whether you would agree with me that the New Opportunities Fund was an act of opportunism by the
14 Jun 2005 : Column 199
Government to direct spending from lottery funds, and that the Bill is a sign of desperation for a Government who see a black hole opening up in their spending plans. They are looking around desperately for anywhere to grab the money to make up for their failures to find funding for core aspects of government for which they should be paying. It is that black hole that is at the heart of the drive today. It will be charitable causes and the heritage of this country that will pay the price for a Government who are losing control of government finance.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. Before the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Horwood) responds, I say to the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart) that he should remember that when he uses the second person he is referring to the Chair. He should be referring to the third person. I might add that interventions are always better if they are brief.

Mr. Horwood: I fear that the hon. Gentleman is correct and the basis of the lottery might be undermined. It was supposed to find new money for new projects. Clause 7 contains a sweeping description of the powers of the Secretary of State. The Government took our advice soon after they came to power by allowing more independence to the Bank of England. The Chancellor has found it useful to have that political file between him and the decision makers of the Monetary Policy Committee. We should have sympathy with Ministers and want them to have similar protection. Otherwise, with these sweeping powers, they may find that they have an irresistible urge to intervene in the lottery's distribution of funds, especially when they are under pressure from the tabloid press or from rather ill-informed comments from people such as the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) in talking about politically correct funding decisions.

Why would Ministers want to put themselves in such a situation? Surely they would do far better to stick to the well-established and well-respected system of allowing much more independence to the national lottery funding bodies. In Committee, we must find a mechanism to make that happen. I support what was said in the Select Committee, in its Fifth report in March 2004. It stated:

If the promotion of lottery spending is related to charitable giving, that undermines the lottery's purpose. The lottery brought in new money because most of its marketing was based on people's desire to win millions of pounds—it was not in competition with existing charity fundraising. Again, that is a good principle.

We need to step back and look at the context in which charities work. The situation is difficult as there are 162,000 charities on the Charity Commission's register worth £32 billion a year in income, representing a 92 per cent. growth in 10 years. Those of us with a background in the sector would accept that it has become
14 Jun 2005 : Column 200
increasingly lopsided. Of that £32 billion, £8.6 billion is raised just by the top 500 fundraising charities. The top 10 charities raise £1.6 billion or 20 per cent. of the total. The top five charities—Cancer Research UK, the National Trust, Oxfam, the British Heart Foundation and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution—fundraise almost £1 billion a year. Those are efficient, well-run charities, which I respect enormously. The Charities Aid Foundation, however, is right to point out that the gap between the largest and smallest charities in the UK continues to widen.

Only 6 per cent. of the income of the top 500 charities comes from lottery sources, with the rest coming from public participation. The CAF's latest figures show that 43 per cent. of that income comes from individual giving, including standing orders and donations made as a result of direct marketing, telephone fundraising, community events and so on. They show that that 9 per cent. comes from legacies promoted in the same way, and that 4 per cent. comes from the trading of Christmas cards and gifts. In total, 56 per cent. of the income of the top 500 is effectively driven by appeals for popular causes to the general public. Another 13 per cent. comes from grant-making trusts and corporate donors, who are driven by popular opinion about the best causes. In many cases, companies try to find the best fit with their own customers or hold polls among their staff to decide which charities to support. I remember conducting a survey during my professional career which found that, overwhelmingly, cancer and children were the causes that received the most support.

The CAF's latest figures underline the fact that the most popular causes dominate the sector. International charities receive £654 million a year; cancer charities £417 million a year; while children's charities are sixth in the list and receive £321 million. However, we should be concerned about the less popular causes at the other end of the spectrum. The HIV/AIDS charities receive £13 million; charities for the deaf £33 million; and mental health charities only £56 million. One might expect the elderly to be a popular cause, but only £92 million was raised by such charities, a sum dwarfed by the sums raised by the most popular causes.

Ms Emily Thornberry (Islington, South and Finsbury) (Lab): I am concerned about allegations about the lack of public confidence in the new management of the lottery fund. You have just made reference to money available for the elderly, but I should like to give the example of a pot of money available for elderly carers in Islington who are in their 80s and 90s and look after their 50-year-old children. That money is not available from local authorities because the needs of those elderly people and their children are not great enough for them to receive social security assistance. Money is therefore available from the lottery. If people in Islington were asked whether that is an appropriate use of lottery money, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that they would be fully in favour in it.

A 93-year-old woman who cared for her 57-old child—the daughter was suffering from early onset Alzheimer's because she had Down's syndrome—fell down the stairs and was offered two hour' help by social services. Lottery funding, however, paid for people from a voluntary organisation called Centre 404 to provide her with proper support. Without the lottery or
14 Jun 2005 : Column 201
imaginative funding, that money would simply not be available. That is why we need the lottery and why we need changes to it.

Mr. Horwood rose—

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. If the hon. Gentleman would bear with me for a moment, I do not think that the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Ms Thornberry) heard the advice that I gave the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart). First, references to other hon. Members should be in the third person, and secondly, the hon. Lady's intervention was far too long and I shall not be as tolerant next time.

Mr. Horwood: I beg forgiveness from the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Ms Thornberry), who may have misunderstood me. I was listing the popular causes with other means of fundraising that are overwhelmingly the most important part of their income. Only 6 per cent. of the income of the top 500 charities comes from the lottery. For the precise reasons that the hon. Lady gave, the lottery is extremely important. However, there is substantial concern in the voluntary sector, particularly among the smaller and less popular causes, about the proposals for more popular involvement or, more significantly, more political involvement.

The National Lottery Charities Board stood apart from the popular concentration on a few major causes, along with a few other funders such as Comic Relief and the Lloyds TSB Foundation, which have done very good work. It encouraged applications from much smaller charities and fundraising teams, as well as from people with much less experience of fundraising.

Philip Davies : I respect both the hard work that the hon. Gentleman has done to raise money for charity and his expertise in the field. However, will he flesh out the point that he is making? Does he accept that the bureaucracy of the lottery favours bigger charities over smaller ones because they can afford to pay people to fill in the plethora of forms? Worthwhile smaller charities, however, such as those in my constituency, lose out because they do not have the time or enough people to fill in all those forms.

Next Section IndexHome Page